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We watched Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Should your kids?

SHARE We watched Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Should your kids?
Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in Amazon’s “The Rings of Power.”

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) in Amazon’s “The Rings of Power.”

Amazon Studios

In seeking an answer to the question “can kids watch Amazon’s new ‘Lord of the Rings’ series?” I planned to have my most sensitive child watch it with me and then observe how long it took him to fall asleep.

But he was too smart for me. He went to bed early.

So here’s my quick assessment.

Quick tip: If you can, watch this on a big-screen 4K TV and not your phone. It’s visually beautiful.

The breakdown

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” Season 1, Episode 1 (“A Shadow of the Past”) and Episode 2 (“Adrift”).
  • Amazon Prime Video.
  • Rating: TV-14 (flashing lights, frightening scenes, alcohol use, violence).

Watch it or not, here’s why you should know about it

  • It’s one of the most highly anticipated (and expensive) television series of the streaming era. Amazon paid $250 million for the rights, and that’s just the beginning. The entire series is expected to cost more than $1 billion.
  • It’s based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And whether it’s the beloved “Lord of the Rings” film franchise or the less warmly received “Hobbit” trilogy, the movie adaptations based on Tolkien’s writings occupy a significant presence in the past two-decades-plus of entertainment culture.

What’s it about?

  • “The Rings of Power” begins in the second age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo. But there are some familiar elves — notably Galadriel — and evil forces we’re all too familiar with.
  • The series begins with a younger Galadriel reflecting on her people emerging from a centurieslong war.
  • The storylines are anchored around the forging of the rings. This series is not based on a Tolkien book, but on the six-part “appendices” about Middle-earth history that follow his book “Return of the King.”

Sex, swears and violence

  • The show is appropriately rated at TV-14.
  • There’s a secret romantic relationship between the elf soldier Arondir and the human Bronwyn. The so-far mild sexual innuendo and references will likely pass over kids’ heads.
  • Nothing in the way of objectionable language except for one mild vulgarity.
  • Occasional gore (spurting blood from a snow troll, a graphic leg injury and a severed orc head).

Can you watch it with the whole family?

We’re only two episodes in, but so far, the answer is ... “maybe.”

Younger children (or any kid who might be sensitive to frightening moments) should probably not watch.

Peter Jackson’s films could be scary (the Ringwraiths, for starters) and violent (multiple orc beheadings in “The Hobbit” films). The first two episodes of “The Rings of Power” introduced some frightening creatures and menacing characters.

The violence picks up near the end of the second episode, with a tense and thrilling encounter between Bronwyn, her son Theo and the creature we saw under the floorboards in the trailer.